For those of you new to Windows, and with apologies to old hands, you may be interested to know that Windows stores the address of every web site you’ve ever visited, from the day you first switched on your machine.

This information is stored in a hidden and protected file that you can’t delete by any normal means. Some say this secret file, one of several called index.dat, was put there at the behest of the FBI but whatever its origins, the fact is your PC is spying on you.

There are ways to rid yourself of this unwelcome snooper and for the past few years I’ve been recommending a freeware program called CCleaner (CC originally stood for Crap Cleaner…), and that’s not about to change as the latest version 3 is released. More »

By following a few simple guidelines, you can maintain your computer and keep it running smoothly. This article discusses how to use the tools available in Windows 7, Vista, and XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to more efficiently maintain your computer and safeguard your privacy when you’re online.

1. Free up disk space

The Disk Cleanup tool helps you free up space on your hard disk to improve the performance of your computer. The tool identifies files that you can safely delete, and then enables you to choose whether you want to delete some or all of the identified files.

Use Disk Cleanup to:

* Remove temporary Internet files.
* Remove downloaded program files (such as Microsoft ActiveX controls and Java applets).
* Empty the Recycle Bin.
* Remove Windows temporary files such as error reports.
* Remove optional Windows components that you don’t use.
* Remove installed programs that you no longer use.
* Remove unused restore points and shadow copies from System Restore. More »

Check the hardware.

Hardware? Yes! No operating system can be better than the hardware on which it’s installed, and older systems are prone to age-related problems. One often-overlooked problem is dust buildup, which can cause chips and drives to overheat and malfunction. These hardware errors can masquerade as software problems, causing you to waste time troubleshooting the wrong thing.

It’s easy to clean your PC. Consult my how-to article, “Getting the grunge out of your PC.” (It’s a few years old, but still completely apt.) While you have your PC’s case open, make sure that all plug-in cards and socketed chips are fully seated and all cables firmly connected. More »

I’m not sure if this is just me, but some days I find myself sat in front of my computer not having anything to do.

Now this can sometimes be dangerous as it means I start playing with settings and customising things.

This is when I came across a piece of software called Windows 7 Start Button Changer, which as the name probably gives away allows you to change the design of the Windows 7 Start Orb (Start Button).

Windows 7 Start Button Changer work with both 32bit and 64bit versions of Windows 7 and allows you to choose from a section of pre-made Start Orbs or you can create your own to use. The software is also free, which happens to be my favourite price.

I have put together some quick instructions for Windows 7 Start Button Changer but its really not that hard to use. But if you do have any questions please feel free to post them below.

Using the Windows 7 Start Button Changer:

Step 1: First things First Create a Restore Point. You can do this by searching for “System Restore” using the search box in the Start Menu. More »

Sometimes, problems can occur after the installation of a new program or device. You can use System Protection to restore your computer to a previous point in time when such problems do occur.

System Protection is enabled by default in Windows. Although not recommended, you can disable System Protection. Given that the restore points used to return your computer to a previous state consume disk space, some people may choose to turn the feature off.

If you decide to disable System Restore, you can do so using these steps:

1. Right click My Computer and click Properties.

2. From the System Properties window, click the System Protection tab.

3. Select the drive for which you want to disable System Protection and click Configure.

4. Click Turn off system protection.

5. Click OK.